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Legislature Plans Fiscal Fix For MTA

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Quoted from CBS New York.

 

"Malcolm Smith, Sheldon Silver Keeping Details Of Talks Under Wraps

Negotiations Come On Heels Of Smith's Income Tax Surcharge Plan, First

 

Outcry over disastrous doomsday fare hikes has finally been heard in Albany.

 

Legislative leaders now say they expect to have a rescue plan hammered out before Wednesday's budget deadline.

 

The promising news for commuters came Friday afternoon, not long after Governor David Paterson and legislative leaders appeared together. They spoke of the larger state budget picture, and how there was a broad range of concerns that need to be addressed with cuts.

 

"We are now on the verge of cuts that are life-threatening, and with a situation like that, everything is on the table," Paterson said.

 

Neither Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver nor Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith would say what the deal included, and would only admit that talks to help the MTA were underway.

 

MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger told CBS 2 on Friday that it's Albany's job to help.

 

"Our job is not to decide what's a better solution is – that's up to the politicians to decide what the solution is," Hemmerdinger says. "We have to implement the solution, whatever the solution is, or we have to do what we have to do."

 

On Wednesday, facing a budget deficit, the MTA board voted substantial fare increases and service cuts. Since then, Speaker Sheldon Silver and assembly Democrats were pushing a plan that would tax the rich, increasing the top income tax rate of 6.85 percent.

 

Those making more than $300,000 would be hit with a 7.97 tax rate; more than $500,000, 8.47 percent. And more than $1 million, 8.97. The tax hikes would raise $4 billion a year.

 

Senate Democrats proposed a tax that would cost $650 for anyone who makes $100,000 and lives or works in the MTA ridership area, a plan that seemed to lack key support.

 

So, it appears the MTA's doomsday plan will not come to pass. As many expected, it's Albany to the rescue."

 

Looks like Albany finally heard and realized what would happen if the Doomsday Budget actually came to light.

 

We'll see in the next couple of days/weeks about this plan.

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Quoted from CBS New York.

 

"Malcolm Smith, Sheldon Silver Keeping Details Of Talks Under Wraps

Negotiations Come On Heels Of Smith's Income Tax Surcharge Plan, First

 

Outcry over disastrous doomsday fare hikes has finally been heard in Albany.

 

Legislative leaders now say they expect to have a rescue plan hammered out before Wednesday's budget deadline.

 

The promising news for commuters came Friday afternoon, not long after Governor David Paterson and legislative leaders appeared together. They spoke of the larger state budget picture, and how there was a broad range of concerns that need to be addressed with cuts.

 

"We are now on the verge of cuts that are life-threatening, and with a situation like that, everything is on the table," Paterson said.

 

Neither Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver nor Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith would say what the deal included, and would only admit that talks to help the MTA were underway.

 

MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger told CBS 2 on Friday that it's Albany's job to help.

 

"Our job is not to decide what's a better solution is – that's up to the politicians to decide what the solution is," Hemmerdinger says. "We have to implement the solution, whatever the solution is, or we have to do what we have to do."

 

On Wednesday, facing a budget deficit, the MTA board voted substantial fare increases and service cuts. Since then, Speaker Sheldon Silver and assembly Democrats were pushing a plan that would tax the rich, increasing the top income tax rate of 6.85 percent.

 

Those making more than $300,000 would be hit with a 7.97 tax rate; more than $500,000, 8.47 percent. And more than $1 million, 8.97. The tax hikes would raise $4 billion a year.

 

Senate Democrats proposed a tax that would cost $650 for anyone who makes $100,000 and lives or works in the MTA ridership area, a plan that seemed to lack key support.

 

So, it appears the MTA's doomsday plan will not come to pass. As many expected, it's Albany to the rescue."

 

Looks like Albany finally heard and realized what would happen if the Doomsday Budget actually came to light.

 

We'll see in the next couple of days/weeks about this plan.

 

Not trying to bust your hope guys but i am skeptical on this report.

It was also Ch.2/WCBS-TV(same station that 'fired & laid off' hunderds of staffers including several key reporters & the weekday sports ancho recentlyr)that reported that a 'deal with close' on saving the MTA about a month ago with the plans for an East River Tolls and payroll tax. Sorry Ch.2/CBS credibility to me is shot.

 

The only reaible sources regarding new and breaking MTA/NYC Transit area news stories IMO is the Daily News and NY1news. The reason being that they both have a full time transit reporter while Ch.2 does not.

 

My guess(no sources just a hunch) is still that Albany will perform a 'semi recuse' plan and tonly modest fare hikes. The Political leaders from Paterson on down, knowing that a statewide election is next year will provide this semi bailout more as a political must than being kind and chartiable New Yorkers.:mad:

 

For instance the fare would only increases to $2.25 for basic NYC Transit fare and an 10% raise on both LIRR and MNRR fares. Along with some service cuts but not the 'doomesday cuts' that are this close to occuring. I could be wrong but the thousands of call, the office of Paterson, Silver, Smith and others have gotten is already changed the tone of trying to save the MTA.

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Here an update on the last minute bailout plan for the MTA by Albany as reported in the Daily News.

 

State legislators to offer up plan to derail MTA's doomsday budget

 

BY Glenn Blain and Pete Donohue

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

 

Updated Friday, March 27th 2009

 

 

 

 

State legislative leaders said Friday they expect to soon have a plan sparing riders from jarring fare hikes and punishing service cuts.

 

Revenue-raising measures under discussion don't include tolling East and Harlem river bridges but Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) said all options remain on the table.

 

Either way, a final package wouldn't let drivers off the hook completely, sources said.

 

If not tolls, motorists would have to help plug the MTA's massive budget gaps through higher vehicle registration fees or some other driving-related charge, sources said.

 

The rest of the plan is expected to include two other key recommendations from a panel headed by former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Richard Ravitch: modest fare hikes and a payroll tax on businesses in the MTA region, sources said.

 

After they emerged from a closed-door meeting with Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Smith said they expect to finish hashing out the details of the doomsday-derailing plan early in the week.

 

"Based on the conversations we've had of late, I think it won't be in the budget bill but I think we'll be passing it around the same time," Smith said.

 

The state budget is due by the end of Tuesday.

 

The MTA's adoption Wednesday of a doomsday budget with fare hikes between 25% and 30% may have been the jolt legislators needed, Silver said.

 

"We both reject the MTA board action," Silver said. "Maybe the action makes it real in people's minds and makes people flexible."

 

The Ravitch plan recommended fare hikes of 8%.

 

The MTA's doomsday budget adopted Wednesday would, if implemented, raise the price of a monthly MetroCard $22 to $103. The one-way subway/bus fare would rise 50 cents to $2.50.

 

The board also adopted service cuts that include eliminating 30 local bus routes in the city and Long Island, shutting down two subway lines and shuttering a handful of subway stations during overnight hours.

 

Transit advocacy groups like the Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, meanwhile, urged riders to keep the heat on the Legislature.

 

Scores of riders bombarded the Albany offices of elected officials with pleas to halt the pain after Mayor Bloomberg urged them to tell legislators they were "mad as hell" and weren't going to "take it anymore."

 

The Daily News provided key leaders' telephone numbers as a public service - and readers flooded the lines with more than 1,000 calls.

 

"There's a huge amount of public outrage," Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said. "People are calling and speaking up."

 

c)2008 NY Daily news. pdonohue@nydailynews.com

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I can understand busses being less frequent to save fuel, but i'm about to start having tours in the city, i can't have these service cuts, would make a 3-4 hour tour take 6 hours with all the waiting. I say expand service, decrease headways, make the timers a bit faster, that way when the economy recovers the system is ready.

 

The best way to ride out a downturn is to invest and expand.

 

- A

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Here a great commentary by local time WNBC-TV Ch. 4 reporter Gabe Pressman on the cuts planned by June.

 

The Three-Card Monte Game, and the Suckers Are Us

 

By GABE PRESSMAN

 

Thu, Mar 26, 2009

 

 

 

It's an old three-card monte game played by the politicians time and again -- and the suckers are the people of New York.

 

Once again, we are being treated to a kind of ballet dance among the mayor, the governor, the legislative leaders and the Metrpolitan Transportation Agency. And, once again, the whole affair is embedded in an old game to delude us and make it seem as though the power is with the big, bad MTA and not the highest elected officials, the governor and the mayor ... and the leaders of the Legislature.

 

I remember when the MTA was created back in 1968. John Lindsay was mayor, Nelson Rockefeller was governor. And the basic idea (although they didn't admit it) was to divert attention from City Hall and the State House and put the blame for fare increases on this blob of an agency. The public would always think of the MTA as a separate unit of government, even though the members of this body were appointed by the governor and the mayor.

 

The political motive was clear: let this virtually anonymous, unelected blob of an agency take the heat, not the real rulers of New York. The subway and bus fare was always the hot-button political issue in New York, and better the board members of the MTA take the heat than the elected chief executives. That was the idea and over the years, it has worked, more or less, to diffuse and defuse blame.

 

Now, once again, the alarm bells have been ringing. This time, the MTA people keep threatening to raise the fares by 23 percent unless something is done soon. The latest deadline is next Thursday. How dare they act as though they're in charge when they are merely puppets?

 

The MTA says it's preparing to vote for a 23-percent fare increase and cuts in service on March 25 unless the money it needs is provided by Albany. Richard Ravitch, the erudite former chairman of the MTA, has come up with a plan that calls for a payroll tax in the 12 counties of the metropolis, tolls on the East and Harlem River bridges and an 8-percent increase in subway and bus fares.

 

Gov. Paterson supports a version of the Ravitch plan and so does Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the Democratic-controlled Assembly. But many lawmakers in the State Senate, after sounding out their constituents, are dead set against the tolls. But they do support a plan that calls for a lower payroll tax and a lower fare increase?

 

As they pass the buck back and forth, you can't blame the average subway or bus rider for being a bit confused. The local politicians are demanding that Albany fork over the money -- and, if Albany does, where's that money going to come from? The taxpayers, of course. And, if the fare increase gains support, who's going to pay for it? The poor guys and gals who ride the subways, of course.

 

That's why it reminds you of a weird card game or perhaps a ballet. Everybody points to the other guy for the money. But, basically, it's the little guy who's going to pay, whether it's a fare increase, new tolls or a hefty levy on payrolls. The costs will be passed on to the strap hanger, and he'll pay and pay and pay.

 

Let's not fall for the political tricksters. To misquote a little classical poetry -- don't ask for whom the fare tolls, it tolls for thee.

 

C)2009 WNBC-TV, Inc. any reactions?

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Maybe its time the (MTA) got transfered to federal control.

 

- A

 

The MTA in DC hands? That even more 'political joke' than the clowns in Albany.:mad: Even a debate on where to buy pizza down there is poliitcal..:tdown:

 

Plus it was both parties looking the other way on Wall St and crooked Businessman that caused this mega recession in 1st place. Sorry Metsfan not a good idea IMO.

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The MTA in DC hands? That even more 'political joke' than the clowns in Albany.:mad: Even a debate on where to buy pizza down there is poliitcal..:tdown:

Government hands?? No! I'd rather have it privatised.

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The MTA in DC hands? That even more 'political joke' than the clowns in Albany.:mad: Even a debate on where to buy pizza down there is poliitcal..:tdown:

 

Plus it was both parties looking the other way on Wall St and crooked Businessman that caused this mega recession in 1st place. Sorry Metsfan not a good idea IMO.

 

If they can run the airports, highways, shipping ports, and amtrak, i think (MTA) would be a piece of cake. Also more funding. I really think (MTA) has failed & the federal department of transportation should take over till the mess is sorted out.

 

- A

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I'd rather have the (MTA) divided to other transporation systems... All Staten Island stuff become part of NJT. NYC Subway and Busses become it's own... Metro-North merge with Bee-Line and LIRR merge with Suffolk Bus Company.

 

Uh, no.

 

- A

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Sorry to bore you guys with articles. However this one is an excellent one.

For those of you who want to know about the lack of intrest to solve the MTA's problems need only imo read this excellent article on corruption up in Albany from this morning paper.

 

*Warning this is a 4-page long but worthwhile article to read.

 

The dysfunctional government in Albany: You guys are a disgrace!

BY Kenneth Lovett

DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF

 

Sunday, March 29th 2009

 

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, Majority Leader Malcolm Smith & Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have the power.

 

It's time to clean up the mess in Albany!

 

New York’s state government — dubbed the most dysfunctional in the nation — is living up to its reputation now more than ever.

The failure to bail out the cash-straved MTA so far has once again put Albany back in the media spotlight as a place for corruption that would make even other 'troubled' state captials in Baton Rouge, Trenton, and Springfield, Ill. blush.In the last two weeks alone, another massive corruption scandal in the controller's office was highlighted in an indictment, the governor and Legislature were finalizing a budget deal containing massive tax hikes in complete secrecy and a state senator was indicted on charges of beating his girlfriend.

 

A lack of public input and accountability has locked citizens out of their government and made the Capitol ripe for corruption and favoritism.

 

"If the average person saw what's going on, they'd descend on Albany with torches and pitchforks like in the old Franken-stein movies," said former Assemblyman Thomas Kirwan, a Newburgh Republican.

 

Reformers have been raising the alarm for years.

 

In 2004, New York University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice issued a scathing report calling the Legislature "dysfunctional" and saying three men - the governor, the

 

Senate majority leader and the Assembly speaker - controlled legislation and made all the key decisions.

 

In 2006, the center issued a followup report noting small changes but concluding most of the socalled reforms simply "codified the status quo."

 

Last year, the center issued a third report, "Still Broken: New York State Legislative Reform," which found that despite some changes, there is still a long way to go.

 

"The main structural problems are all still there," report author Lawrence Norden said.

 

Still, reformers hoped change would come this year because one party, the Democrats, controls both houses and the governor's office.

 

That hope, critics say, has not turned into reality.

 

How bad is it?

 

There have been a string of high-profile scandals from both parties, indictments and convictions - including a governor caught frolicking with hookers, state controller Alan Hevsi forced out for using state employees to chauffeur his 'sick' wife, and a Senate majority leader named Joe Bruno indicted for shady business dealings.

 

The executive director of the state Public Integrity Commission, which is supposed to keep the executive branch honest, is under investigation.

 

 

Lobbyists have a stranglehold on the Legislature. Relying on buttonholing and campaign contributions to legislative leaders, the lobbying industry, which raked in $171 million in 2007, can block good-government legislation for years.

 

 

 

That stranglehold helps speed through dead-of-night laws favoring special interests, like insurance companies or labor unions, with little notice, no debate and virtually no dissent.

 

Legislative leaders buy loyalty by awarding committee chairmanships and leadership posts with thousands of dollars in stipends - although some committees rarely, or never, meet. Members almost always vote the way they're told. Notoriously lax campaign laws let legislators use campaign cash on meals, travel, cars and gifts.

 

Financial disclosure forms are a joke, allowing lawyer legislators - and others - to hide outside income and client lists.

 

Who pays for all this? We do: with sky-high taxes, expensive policy, bad laws and laughably ineffective public servants.

 

"You know the expression that politics is like sausage making?" said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "In Albany's case, that might be an insult to the sausage."

 

All this was supposed to change when Eliot Spitzer, the hard-charging state attorney general dubbed the Sheriff of Wall Street, was elected governor in 2006 on the promise of cleaning up the place.

 

The self-proclaimed "steamroller" found it nearly impossible - repeatedly clashing with former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) and others - before he resigned in disgrace in March 2008 after getting caught in a prostitution scandal.

 

It's worse than ever

 

This year, reformers hoped the legislative gridlock would be broken when Democrats took control of the Senate, giving the party control of the governor's mansion and both houses of the Legislature for the first time since the New Deal.

 

Instead, the situation in the Senate has been worse than ever according to many who know the dealings in Albany. This is saying alot going back to the late 1800's and the Tammny Hall era. Corruption in Albany has been a way of life for over a century says most political history.

 

Three rogue Democrats held up the selection of Queens Democrat Malcolm Smith as new majority leader and extracted some leadership powers in return for their support.

 

Major legislation, including a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bailout bill, has stalled because a slim two-seat majority makes it difficult to move much of anything.

 

With Republicans standing together as a bloc, all it takes is for one maverick Democrat on any issue to keep it from moving. Issues many Democrats had long hoped would move - the legalization of gay marriage, the elimination of the Rockefeller-era drug laws and the toughening of rent regulations - have stalled.

 

Making things tougher: The legislative process is almost entirely controlled by the leaders.

 

Other states make it easier for rank-and-file members to move legislation forward. Unlike in most states, in New York, public hearings are seldom held on legislation, committees take their cues from legislative leaders and the two houses don't hold joint open committee meetings to hash out differences.

 

Legislative leaders buy loyalty by awarding committee chairmanships and leadership posts with thousands of dollars in stipends and doling out millions in pork-barrel spending for local projects ranging from Little Leagues to health care clinics.

 

The leaders also control the once-a-decade redistricting process in which the legislative lines are redrawn, often to protect incumbents and a party's majority.

 

"Most, if not all, of the problems in the Legislature that I experienced stem from the disproportionate power wielded by the party leaders, most especially the leader of the majority," former Sen. Seymour Lachman, a Brooklyn Democrat, said at a recent hearing on reform.

 

"I witnessed members cede their independence and judgment to their leaders in return for favorable committee assignments, staff allocations, office space, funding for district projects, and financial and manpower support, if needed, at reelection time."

 

Public is shut out

 

Things were so bad that Kirwan, a Republican, and Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, jointly sued the legislative leadership in 2005 in an effort to have the power spread around. The suit failed.

 

The public is often shut out of the process until the very end. Budget bills, negotiated in private, often are still warm from the copier when lawmakers vote on them with virtually no time for public review.

 

The governor gives special permission for lawmakers to act without waiting the required three days for the bills to age to avoid having delicate compromise deals unravel under public scrutiny.

 

Legislation pushed by powerful interests often pops up - and passes - late in the session with little warning and no public hearings. Other measures that may have strong public support stall because a leader won't let it come to a vote.

 

And, oh, the scandals. Ethics scandals. Corruption scandals. And the sex scandals.

In the last few months alone: n Two key figures close to former Controller Alan Hevesi were charged with offering access to billions of dollars in pension money to firms that paid them kickbacks. Bruno and Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Queens) were indicted in separate cases on federal corruption charges that they mixed their private business interests with their public offices. n A tough-on-crime Parole Board member, former Assemblyman Chris Ortloff (R-Plattsburgh), was charged with trying to solicit sex over the Internet with what he thought were two young sisters. And Gov. Paterson's choice to head the Parole Board, Felix Rosa, withdrew his name from consideration after an allegation arose that he exposed himself to a fellow Parole Division employee in the mid-1990s. n Herbert Teitelbaum, executive director of the Public Integrity Commission, is under investigation over allegations he tried to protect Spitzer from a probe into whether he used state troopers to spy on Bruno.

 

Albany is Controlled by lobbyists Not the Public.

 

The ethics panel that over-sees lawmakers has done virtually nothing over the years. The former Lobbying Commission - long considered the one effective oversight body - was folded into the Public Integrity Commission and its bulldog executive director fired.

 

"The problem now is there is no cop on the beat," said Barbara Bartoletti of the state League of Women Voters.

 

Transparency is another major issue. Lawmakers are required to file financial and ethics disclosure forms, but they are heavily redacted when made public. That means, for instance, it's impossible to know how much Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) makes in his role with a prominent trial law firm or who his clients are.

 

Albany is also a town controlled by lobbyists, an industry that has roughly doubled in size - from $92 million in 2003 to $171 million in 2007.

 

Lobbyists spend their days discussing legislation at the Capitol with lawmakers and their nights hopping from one campaign fund-raiser to another, delivering donation checks at each one.

 

New York's lax campaign laws allow legislators to use campaign cash on meals, travel, cars - and even gifts and flowers - as long as they aren't for very loosely defined personal reasons.

 

Good-government groups have attacked Paterson for dropping Spitzer's reform mantle. They note there has been no push for campaign finance re-form.

 

They and a handful of lawmakers want to create an independent redistricting commission to take politics out of the process.

 

There may be some hope on the horizon: Senate Democrats have formed a bipartisan committee designed to develop rules to make their house more open.

 

The committee has been considering a host of rules changes that would include strengthening the committee process, making it easier for all rank-and-file members to move bills to the floor for a vote and providing more openness.

 

If the Senate approves re-form measures, Norden hopes the Assembly will follow suit and open the process, not just to the public, but to rank-and-file members as well.

 

"I'm not saying that they will, but I've got to have some hope," Norden laughed.

 

 

c)2009 NY Daily News, Inc.

 

Any reactions?

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Oh well then... I'll just go with my first idea on this thread...

 

Honestly county divided funding might be a better way to go.

 

- A

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Yeah, but I also like ideas of Zones in the Subway/Bus/L.I. Bus... Like by distance/amount of station of trip...

 

People will protest that.

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Yeah, but I also like ideas of Zones in the Subway/Bus/L.I. Bus... Like by distance/amount of station of trip...

Won't work in NYC.

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People will protest that.

 

Zones are only really worth it on long routes with certain ridership patterns.

 

- A

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Zones are only really worth it on long routes with certain ridership patterns.

 

- A

 

Actually in NYC the subway/bus fare even at it planned $2.50 fare is stiill a baragin. In London on the underground subway to travel from the nearby suruburs to Central London(similar from using the (A) from Far Rockaway-59th St)is about $10.00 US Dollars. Also from Central London-the Airport(Heathrow)it's about $6.00 (not counting taxes).

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Actually in NYC the subway/bus fare even at it planned $2.50 fare is stiill a baragin. In London on the underground subway to travel from the nearby suruburs to Central London(similar from using the (A) from Far Rockaway-59th St)is about $10.00 US Dollars. Also from Central London-the Airport(Heathrow)it's about $6.00 (not counting taxes).

 

Yea, but transport for london also beats the pants off (NYCT) subway for reliability on time service, safety, ride comfort, and their rolling stock is... not 40 years old. :cool:

 

Plus, they have an entirely different kind of rail system based on 4 rails and deep stations.

 

- A

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At $2.50, NYC is getting a slap on the wrist compared to LI Bus riders (like me). $3.50 and no unlimiteds allowed is absolutely not acceptable by my standards.

 

Their latest plans are falling through: bridge tolls, taxi cab surcharges, all being washed down the drain because of a greedy few individuals (as well as greedy taxicab drivers and passengers who I'm SURE are loaded). It's really not looking good. I am losing faith in Albany by the day - no, by the minute.

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